This month marks 50 years of the Abortion Act. Since it passed Parliament in October 1967, there have been nearly nine million abortions in Great Britain. At The Christian Institute, we are looking again at some moving stories of people whose lives have been deeply impacted by abortion.
This is Melanie and Damien Sheenan’s story, first published in 2014.
Melanie and Damien Sheenan from Northern Ireland chose to keep baby Joshua – now nearly a year old and doing well – after doctors made what was eventually shown to be an incorrect diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.
Devastated by the prognosis, they were then made to feel they were doing something “terribly wrong” by choosing life for their son.
At the 20 week scan the Sheenans were told that Joshua’s brain and spine had not formed.
In subsequent weeks, as they attended a specialist hospital in Sheffield for further scans, abortion was recommended.
“They didn’t even think his life would begin” says father Damien, “the doctors told us Joshua would be incompatible with life”.
Melanie says: “They felt that the child wouldn’t survive birth”, says Melanie, and if it did it would be so profoundly disabled it would, in their words, ‘have no quality of life’.
“I was put under immense pressure to go ahead with an abortion.”
At appointments they would be introduced as ‘the couple continuing with the pregnancy against medical advice’.
“We were made to feel we were doing something terribly wrong by wanting to keep our baby.”
But the diagnosis was “completely inaccurate”, says Melanie.
She believes people have an unreal view of abortion and see it as a “quick fix” but she says “the actual reality of abortion is horrific”.
“I’d advise that no matter what, the baby should be given a chance,” she concludes.
“If we had gone with the doctors’ diagnosis he wouldn’t be here today and I’d be living with the fact that I’d had an abortion and all the effects that might have had on me.
“No matter what, carry on because it’s life and God still has a plan no matter what the outcome will be.”